Socialist Alternative are hosting this event in Melbourne over Easter. Looking at the agenda online it is amazing to see such a history-heavy agenda – yet only one workshop (out of nearly 60 different advertised sessions) that looks at environmental issues. “Stopping global warming: the need for anti-capitalist politics” is the one workshop. Socialist Alternative are capable of some analysis of the issues. Yet it is just not a priority for them (as I have complained before).
What kind of “Marxism” is it that can ignore such a fundamental issue? We have such timeless topics as “Why do socialists need a party?”, we have all sorts of historical lectures such as “Founding a revolutionary current: the hidden history of American Trotskyism.” But the most pressing issue in the world today (that’s not an exaggeration) is basically a footnote for their “Marxism”.Their conference might as well be called "Marxism 1910" or "Marxism 2110".
It’s not just that Socialist Alternative are almost totally absent from the climate change movement. Even if Marxism 2010 was intended to be a purely academic conference, there is a rich vein of writing on ecology and socialism to tap. It would add to their arsenal of criticisms of capitalism. To name just four vital books:
Marx’s Ecology, by John Bellamy Foster
Biology Under the Influence, by Richard Lewontin and Richard Levins
Making Peace with the Planet, by Barry Commoner
Stop Global Warming: Change the World, by Jonathan Neale
I hope at least that Socialist Alternative members are reading books like these. Yet I don't hold out much hope: there is no evidence in their public presentation.
The terms "old left" and "new left" are from the 1960s. They are part of what is, now, the Old Left's terminology. I don't know what new terms will be coined for the new Old Left, but the new New Left is being born around the world, and it is a profoundly green, or if you prefer, eco-socialist left.